BakedAppleTrtailMix

Baked Apple Trail Mix

One of my family’s favorite treats on road trips or hikes is trail mix. It often seems that we have hardly left the driveway before we are opening up the bag to sample the treat.  I tend to gravitate towards a mix that is heavy on the dried pineapple and papaya, but for this week’s adventure I wanted to make something different, resulting in my Baked Apple Trail Mix.

BakedAppleTrailMix

BakedAppleTrailMix

Perhaps it is because school is just getting back into session that I had a craving for a soft, warm and sugary baked apple. Regardless of the reason for my longings, I thought that transforming the popular fall dish into a snack item would be a fun twist. I mixed together dried apples, raisins, honey roasted peanuts, mini Reese’s pieces bits, and cinnamon flavored granola chunks for a quick and delicious trail mix.

BakedAppleTrailMix

My kids LOVED this Baked Apple Trail Mix, so much so that I don’t think there would be any left for our outdoor adventures this week.

Baked Apple Trail Mix

 

 

BakedAppleTrailMix


Baked Apple Trail Mix

8 ounces dried apple slices, cut into chunks
1 lb cinnamon flavored granola chunks
1 cup raisins
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
5 ounces Reese’s mini pieces

Mix the ingredients in a large bowl, then and transfer to and store the trail mix in a gallon size sealable bag.

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savory popcorn

Savory Homemade Microwave Popcorn

At the beginning of June my family went on a quick weekend trip to Breckenridge, CO. The few times we have been there we have enjoyed perusing the used bookstore, Old Man Berkins, and tasting the vinegar and oil at the specialty oil store, Oil Fusion. On this occasion, the specialty oil store had samples of popcorn sprinkled with their truffle salt for customers to enjoy.  I must say that it worked for my family – we now have a renewed interested in freshly made popcorn sprinkled with flavorful salts.

True, the pre-purchased microwave popcorn bags are easy. But did you realize that in about the same amount of time you can pop popcorn kernels in the microwave using only a microwave safe bowl and plate? You then get to customize your flavor, using actual butter and whatever topping you choose.

In addition to the truffle salt, we also really love the alderwood smoked salt that I wrote about in my homemade butter experiment. This week I tried mixing a variety of savory herbs and spices: celery salt, garlic powder, dried basil, and black pepper. The possibilities are endless – who knows, I may use pink sea salt, Creole salt, or another concoction next.

savory popcorn


Savory Homemade Microwave Popcorn

½ teaspoon celery salt
¾ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

 

In a small bowl, mix together the celery salt, dried basil, black pepper, and garlic powder; set aside.

Place popcorn in a large microwave safe bowl and cover completely with a glass, microwave safe plate.  Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes, or until the time between popcorn pops is about 3-4 seconds.

Using oven mits, remove the bowl from the microwave.  Pour the butter over the popcorn, tossing to coat. Sprinkle on the salt mixture and toss to coat.  Serve; makes 5 cups.

 

Note: if using an already flavored salt, use ½ teaspoon of the pre-packaged salt in place of the salt mixture above.

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Samoa Granola Bars

Samoa Granola Bars

So far I have resisted the tempting display of Girl Scout cookies at the entry of the grocery store.  Growing up, my mom always bought thin mints and tag-a-longs so it wasn’t until I was an adult that I really got to appreciate the perfect flavor combination of the Samoa cookie – a buttery wafer coated in caramel, coconut, and chocolate. YUM.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love the thin mints too, I just have two favorite Girl Scout cookies now.

While I may have made it past the stocked tables brimming with colorful cookie boxes, it only resulted in my need to whip up my own version of the treat – a Samoa Granola Bar.  Since I prefer my granola bars chewy, I used the oven only to roast the oats to combat their raw flavor and to toast the coconut. The remainder of the prep was simply mixing and pressing into a greased 8-inch x 8-inch dish and letting the bars chill overnight to firm up. I do recommend chilling them overnight, as only a few hours of chilling results in more crumbling.

Samoa Granola Bars

The Samoa granola bars turned out every bit as chewy as I had hoped, and taste like their cookie inspiration. I also barely swatted my husband away to grab photos of the finished dish. Thankfully I managed to take a few pictures of the Samoa Granola Bars before they were declared “awesome” and devoured. While they are a bit more decadent and gooey than I would typically make for a hike or snack, they are a great way to make a gluten-free treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth and your hankering for a Girl Scout cookie.

Samoa Granola Bars

Samoa Granola Bars


Samoa Granola Bars

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
½ cup honey
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup caramel bits
½ cup dark chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line an 8-inch x 8-inch pan with foil and spray with cooking spray and set aside.  Spread the oats on a large rimmed baking sheet and the coconut flakes on a second rimmed baking sheet.  Put both sheets in the oven, baking the oats for 15 minutes and the coconut  for 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring both twice during baking. Remove the oats and toasted coconut from the oven and add to a large bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the honey, butter, salt, and vanilla extract.  Pour the honey mixture over the oats and coconut and stir to coat.  Add in the caramel bits and chocolate chips and stir until combined. Press the granola mixture into the foil-lined pan and chill in the refrigerator overnight.  Lift the bars from told the dish using the foil and cut into 8 bars; serve or store in refrigerator until ready to eat.

Note: I used old fashioned rolled oats which did result in some crumbling.  Jenn from onceuponachef.com suggests using quick cook oats to reduce crumbling.

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Wild West Chex Mix

This summer my husband and I have vowed to have more BBQs, giving us a chance to enjoy our patio and spend more time with friends. Our first big bash was a party for my Toastmasters group which turned out to be quite the crowd – 22 adults and 10 kids. Since it was a potluck I didn’t have to worry about making too many things, but I did want to have an easy to munch item to scatter between tables that wasn’t perishable.

Wild West Chex Mix

A tweak to my Wild West ChexTM Mix was just the thing for my party. The name and theme for my chexTM mix is a play on what I can imagine a cowboy would like in his party mix – a dash of coffee, a bit of hot pepper, and a handful of cheese. The coffee makes it’s way into the buttery coating on the cereal, and jalepeno popcorn, chili cheese flavored chips, and cheddar pretzels add just the zing I wanted.

Wild West Chex Mix

The last addition to my mix is Boston baked bean candies. They look like a pinto bean on the outside, but are actually a peanut coated in a maroon candy shell (not surprisingly, they are a hit with the kiddos).

 Wild West Chex Mix

The prep is quick, which means you don’t have to slave in the kitchen and you have more time to relax (and maybe sneak in a handful of the Wild West Chex Mix) before guests arrive.  Party Time!


 

Wild West ChexTM Mix

8 cups corn chexTM cereal
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
6 cups jalapeno flavored popcorn (about one 3 ounce bag)
4 cups chili cheese flavored corn chips
5 cup cheddar cheese pretzel bites (about one 14.4 oz bag)
Two 5 oz box Boston Baked Beans candies

 

Place cereal in a large microwave safe bowl. In a small microwave safe bowl, place butter and melt for 40 seconds, or until completely melted. Stir coffee, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and cinnamon into butter, then pour over cereal and stir to coat evenly. Place bowl in microwave, and heat on high for 5-6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and spread cereal onto foil lined baking sheets (or paper towels) to cool. Once cool, add to a large bowl and then stir in the popcorn, corn chips, pretzel bites, and Boston baked beans candies and store in a tightly lidded container.

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